Yes guys, welcome to the winter period episode of season 2! As you saw last time out it was a tough start to the season with the league form up and down, including a painful crash out of our Europa League group where my side failed to win any games…enough said about that but if you missed the last instalment, check it out right here.
In this one, we’ll be looking at a whole load of games from December through to the end of February, the transfer window, another new club link and the return of one of my tactics that some of you will remember from my last long term series!
A reminder for the rules of the save, which are key to progression which is why there will be three self set objectives to achieve each season. This will help my progression and the club’s progression in becoming that go to team in Scotland. The season two objectives are;
- Promote two youngsters to the first team, making 10 appearances each
- Qualify for the Europa Conference League (4th/5th place league finish)
- Reach the Final of Either Domestic Cup (COMPLETED)
If all three objectives are passed, the next coaching licence can be obtained. In addition, if a trophy is won this acts as a bonus token for a coaching course also on top of the objectives. (If a trophy forms part of the objectives in a season, then this does not act as a bonus). I will continue to set objectives after all coaching badges are complete and any failed targets will be added on to the following season to put the pressure on!
You may have noticed an objective in green and marked as completed…this is because my team are in the Betfred Cup final for the second season in a row (which was won last season) so after our dodgy start this is a step forward for sure.
Apart from that, there is not much more to do but get stuck into this monstrous episode, so grab yourself a drink and some snacks because there is a lot to get through!
The Tactic – 4-3-3 Wing Play
As mentioned earlier, some readers may recognise what’s about to come but the success I had with this in the ‘Bolton Back to Europa’ series was second to none. Wing play is an already available tactic within FM21 but I decided to adapt it using some modern and old school aspects of the beautiful game that we all love. I did a piece on this tactic which you can check out to see in depth analysis of the effects it can have.
I have adapted the instructions to suit my Dundee United side but the main premise of it is to work the ball quickly into wide areas to stretch the opposition, allowing space to deliver into the box. The overlap and counter aspects are key to this as attacking in numbers mixed with pace can turn potent especially when you need it most!
New Club Partnership – Torreense
I continue to build our feeder empire by striking a partnership with Portuguese second tier side Torreense, I’m very happy with this one as I’m generally a fan of Portuguese football and the talent that the country possesses domestically. A successful side regionally, hopefully some of my younger players can contribute to them challenging for promotion to Liga NOS.
Betfred Cup Final (Vs. Celtic)
For a second season in a row, it’s Dundee United against Celtic for the Betfred Cup. Last season it was us who lifted the trophy after extra time but we did go into that game with much better form. How was this one going to work out though?
It wasn’t meant to be as a very poor team performance which only saw us have one shot all game (which wasn’t even on target). I did use the new tactic but this was only the second game using it, probably a risk trying to play positively against a top side but I’m not one to turn up and park the bus. Still, there is much work ahead for the team.
In the review, we were marked as the biggest overachievers but the people who know me well, know I do not appreciate runners up or second place. It’s just my competitive nature!
Before the fixtures, the youth intake projection came in however, it wasn’t looking too appealing for this season but hopefully when March comes there will be some diamonds in the rough.
As the cup final has been covered already which took place on 5th December, it’s all league games for this part and there is six to be looked at.
The first of the month and it was a New Firm Derby against Aberdeen. This was the start of the wing play tactic and on this occasion the game finished equal at 0-0. Some promising signs so I was keen to see what was to come.
Off we travelled to face Kilmarnock and it brought a 1-0 win. It all came from a Lawrence Shankland penalty but it is a start. Changes can take time but whether it was a set piece or not, it’s a step in the right direction.
Rangers were welcomed to Tannadice and it was their day also in a 2-0 loss for my side. It wasn’t actually a bad performance in all honesty, we got forward but didn’t take some decent chances but we move on!
Time to go to Edinburgh to visit Hearts and a great trip it was with a 1-0 victory. It was even sweeter seeing young Lewis Neilson score against his old man’s side with a half volley in the box late on. Unlucky Robbie son!
On the road we were again to take on Livingston. Thankfully it was another victory with a 3-1 win. The football was flowing allowing Nicky Clark, Juanma Hernandez & Peter Pawlett to grab the goals with Livingston grabbing theirs in the 49th minute.
To end the month and it was a game with high flying St. Mirren (yes you read that right) who have been playing some fantastic football. Both teams went for it but neither could find the breakthrough in a 0-0 draw.
A decent month with only one loss, the team are starting to look a lot better with their new style of play.
Winter Transfer Window
I had one aim for this window, to get some creativity into midfield to supply our wingers and striker. I felt this would be key to getting more goals in to our games, ultimately bringing more consistent wins. So a familiar face was brought back who you may remember being signed on loan at this point last season.
Diogo Nascimento returns on loan from Benfica and looks to be pretty handy in the role I want him to play. Great attributes for a playmaker and I’m hoping he can bring some assists in his time with us.
As you’ll see from the overview especially in the outs section, there was some movements for sure. Calum Butcher & Ryan Edwards both left for south of the border on frees after being deemed surplus to requirements with a few youngsters heading out on loan. Another young player in Mackenzie Lemon left for St. Johnstone and I was surprised to see £350k for him let alone the possible rise to £925k considering his poor stats for a full back.
You may see Louis Appere leaving for very cheap but this all started when Appere decided to reject our new contract offer and sign on a pre-contract with Stoke City. I decided to move him on January to his new club because of this (slightly bitter from me). Young prospect Jake Davidson took similar action agreeing a pre-contract with Millwall. In my revolt, I shipped him to our Slovakian feeder club Senica for the rest of the season.
Five games in January after the winter break including the third round of the Scottish Cup, a couple of tough fixtures amongst it too.
It was Alloa in the cup where I took the opportunity to rotate but it seemed to disrupt the team in a narrow 2-1 victory. Alloa actually took a first half lead but second half goals from Nickly Clark & Mark Reynolds stopped a cup shock at our expense.
A Tayside Derby with St. Johnstone now and it was us who had the bragging rights in a 2-0 win. Big Declan Gallagher headed us in front before Lawrence Shankland clinically finished late on in the game.
An away day to face Hibernian and it wasn’t a good visit to Easter Road in a 1-0 loss. It was a poor performance in all honesty, my side did not look like scoring and became repetitively wasteful throughout the game.
A first game with Celtic since the painful Betfred Cup final loss and it was an improvement, drawing 1-1. My side took the lead after Kristoffer Ajer decided to slide one into his own net after a driven cross but Celtic equalised through Olivier Ntcham very late on. Fair result in my eyes.
Last game of the month was at home to Motherwell and we got back amongst the wins with a 1-0 victory. It was winger Hakeeb Adelakun with a fine strike from the edge of the box, hopefully this will spark better productivity from him!
Another decent month, happy with the results bar the Hibernian performance but wins seem to be becoming more frequent again.
February is a good mix of cup and league games with a total of six to get through, we’ll navigate through each fixture in order of playing date.
Another New Firm derby against Aberdeen away at Pittodrie and it was bragging rights for the lads in a 1-0 victory. The main man Lawrence Shankland got the goal just after half time and we were able to stay in control for the remainder of the game.
Another derby in the Scottish Cup fourth round and this time it was with St. Johnstone in the battle of Tayside. Frustratingly the game finished in a 2-2 draw which meant there would be a replay of the tie. Hakeeb Adelakun & Marc McNulty had us 2-1 up before St. Johnstone equalised painfully in the 95th minute…the ref only added on 4 minutes as well!
Back into league action and we were off to Hamilton which brought a 2-1 win. The same scorers as the last fixture in Marc McNulty & Hakeeb Adelakun except this time, the boys were able to see out the win.
Time for the Scottish Cup fourth round replay with St. Johnstone and a crazy game it was with my side winning 3-2 after extra time! Lawrence Shankland scored in normal time but it was only enough for a draw before a four minute double courtesy of Adrian Sporle & Shankland in extra time put us in control. St. Johnstone did score five minutes from time but it went our way on the night.
It wasn’t ideal to face Rangers shortly after a 120 minute match and it showed in a 3-0 loss. The team just looked lethargic and were second to most balls throughout along with Rangers being clinical in the box, it’s safe to say we were punished.
Last game of the month and it was the Scottish Cup fifth round against Hibernian. The boys grabbed a 3-1 victory after a fast start seeing us 2-0 up after 11 minutes thanks to Declan Gallagher & Marc McNulty. It was McNulty who completed the score line late on, showing great form since his return from injury.
A tough month with the amount of fixtures and switching between competitions but I’m happy with the performance in both. Hopefully there’s some Scottish Cup magic on the cards!
We’ve clawed our way back up to 5th and into the European places after being 8th at the start of the episode. A 10 point gap to that particular position, it is clear my team are slowly moving in the right direction. The run in will be key to securing our league target of Europa Conference football.
The next episode will be the season 2 finale as the competitive season will be finished. The main question is, where in the table will my side finish and can I keep the rise within the table?
Whilst you are exploring the DP-FM site, go check out guest blogger @emperor_fm and his new project named ‘Udinese Underdogs’. The aim is to lead Udinese from the lower parts of Serie A to the better side of the table to compete with the best!
To go from the start – https://dpfmblog.com/2021/08/30/udinese-underdogs-s1-e1/
As always, thanks for reading guys I hope you all enjoyed and I’ll try to get the next episode out as soon as time allows.